Writing Nonfiction and Children's Literature: Do you know of any good literature ABOUT these subjects?
January 9, 2007 11:11 AM   Subscribe

I am looking for well regarded books/scholarly papers about writing. Most specifically in the areas of Nonfiction (the essay style of article writing) and Children's Fiction (for a young adult audience). Any tips? Go as far and broad as you can. I'll be off to the British library tomorrow, so the sky is the limit.

I am currently undertaking a Masters Degree in Creative and Professional Writing.

Having written an essay on 'The Problem of Dogma and the Power of Myth', I would now like to assess my article/essay style against writing theory.

As part of my course, I have also written an excerpt from a Young Adult Novel, and would dearly like to read up on some of the literature surrounding the genre.

Thanks in advance...
posted by 0bvious to Writing & Language (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I grew up with On Writing Well by William Zinsser.

It's a fabulous book for nonfiction writing. I recommend it highly.
posted by springo at 11:17 AM on January 9, 2007

Hmm. If you're enrolled in a Master's program in Creative/Professional writing, you might be able to ask some people involved in your program for advice re this. Your department may even have a library of such books from publisher representatives who are anxious to give away review copies.

I'm not sure what sort of "writing theory" you have in mind, but a good college textbook is Writing Analytically by Scott Rosenwasser. You might also have a look at Joseph M. Williams's Style: Ten Lessons Towards Clarity and Grace. Both these books introduce their own terminology to discuss writing, in contrast to more "folksy" approaches, and so may fit your requirement that these books present a theory you can use in considering your prose (while still being essentially "how to" books about writing, rather than straight-up composition theory).

Less consciously theoretical books include the Zinsser already mentioned and the good 'ole Strunk and White Elements of Style. Sylvan Barnet's The Short Guide to College Writing is also a good elementary guide. If you're wanting to pay attention to some more artsy considerations (and as a contrast to Strunk and White), you might read Constance Hale's Sin and Syntax.

As for children's writing? I'll leave that to someone else!
posted by washburn at 12:33 PM on January 9, 2007

Response by poster: I of course have a reading list, which I have studied extensively. I was really looking for new ideas not yet recommended, especially in the kids fiction theory department.

Thanks so far...
posted by 0bvious at 1:35 PM on January 9, 2007

Another vote for On Writing Well. Everyone should have a copy of this book, every single person. It makes a great gift for students, it makes a great reference for the rest of us. Writing well is as much a skill as an art, and this book will hone the skill side. Get your creative jones working for the art side.
posted by caddis at 6:37 PM on January 9, 2007

For writing non-fiction:
* Writing Without Teachers by Peter Elbow
* The Elements of Style by E.B. White and William Strunk

For theory on the composition process:
* James Britton, Linda Flower & John Hayes, James Kinneavy, Lester Faigley
posted by catburger at 8:00 PM on January 9, 2007

I loved Anne Lamott's Bird By Bird.
posted by KRS at 9:16 AM on January 10, 2007

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